Dancer First on the Floor, Debi

Back then, we had sunburned tips of noses,

sand permanently stuck to feet.

Dinner, a pig pulled and dressed,

Sat abandoned on paper plates.

Sacrifice meant nothing as waves

Crashed near, and the skim of the pool

Wobbled gently.

 

A standing speaker lept alive.

Soulful beats familiar thanks to dad.

But I was afraid.

 

Afraid of my height, of my body and how it would

Move wrong or freeze. Afraid of an empty, chlorinated

Dance floor that could swallow me whole.

 

Did you know this fear? We never saw.

Instead, you charged ahead.

A dancer first on the floor,

celebrity in style, grace and light.

You the heartbeat and we now rushing cells.

 

How we danced! Your bronzed arms

Swinging front to back. Legs in rhythmic

Steps side to side. Husband across

Matching each joyful bounce. Your ever-widening

Smile an invitation to join

a life of frequency spun open like a feast.

 

Each song was a gift

and I suddenly lifted from the puddles.

 

There in North Carolina,

You taught me to be free.

How to harness a deep energy and then, pass it along.

 

We like ripples danced

until music became goodbye.

Us cousins, tired and sated, followed

like ducklings back over the boards

to a home temporarily by the sea.

 

written 4.1.20

Fiercely, we hold on

We are never more rooted
in this big universe than
when our eyes sting and
our heads hang heavy for loss.

When we, a procession of sun
glasses, watch, shifting feet,
as life disappears back into
those thick familiar arms.

Our backs, clothed in black,
savor warmth, unaware that
we are at once joyful and empty,
and crying for ourselves

mirrored in the lowering. How
we know deeply: absence
of something weighs more than
substance, and we fiercely hold on.

Looking for the Smoke

in the dark spaces
i went looking for the smoke.
Thought i glimpsed it
around the dust gathering on the third stair,
followed it past open windows,
chased it through the kitchen, a hallway
filled with secret light,
i went searching high,
low, i found nothing.

Felt my way in the early dark to the deck to see a
skyline city far away, no avail. Went looking to the east
and there! I saw a ghost of myself
jumping free into dense air,
she seemed convinced of one thing.

First Morel by Amy Fleury #AmericanLifeinPoetry

I love the immediacy of this poem. The raw feel of it~ Enjoy!

American Life in Poetry: Column 474
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Let’s celebrate the first warm days of spring with a poem for mushroom hunters, this one by Amy Fleury, who lives in Louisiana.

First Morel
Up from wood rot,
wrinkling up from duff
and homely damps,
spore-born and cauled
like a meager seer,
it pushes aside earth
to make a small place
from decay. Bashful,
it brings honeycombed
news from below
of the coming plenty
and everything rising.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Copyright © 2013 by Amy Fleury from her most recent book of poems, Sympathetic Magic, Southern Illinois University Press, 2013. Poem reprinted by permission of Amy Fleury and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2014 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

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American Life in Poetry provides newspapers and online publications with a free weekly column featuring contemporary American poems. The sole mission of this project is to promote poetry: American Life in Poetry seeks to create a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. There are no costs for reprinting the columns; we do require that you register your publication here and that the text of the column be reproduced without alteration.